Cycling Pamir Highway in spring or autum?
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Oct 16, 2012 6:51 AM Last Post By: JohnLockeAUT
Sep 29, 2012 5:14 AM
Cycling Pamir Highway in spring or autum?We are planning on departing the UK sometime next year for a two year cycle to NZ. Timing of departure is our big headache at present as we are planning on going the Pamir - China route.
Therefore option 1: mid/late summer departure UK would see us crossing Turkey, Iran and the Stans during the winter months. Is the Pamir Highway do able in early spring with potentially high rivers and washed out bridges etc?
Option 2: Early spring departure with mad sprint to get across the Stans - Pamir before the on set of winter?
A little advice / knowledge sort please?
Sep 29, 2012 7:30 AM
1Option 1 would put you in a lot of snow and extreme cold. Better would be to start in Turkey in spring and keep to lower elevations at first, then you can avoid the mad-dash routine and enjoy the cycling.
Oct 1, 2012 5:29 AM
2The Pamir Highway is, in theory open all year, but you'd need to be very tough and well prepared to tackle it outside the usual summer months. Snow can fall at any time and close the road, and you can expect extremely cold temperatures. Have a trawl around Crazyguyonabike and you'll find a few accounts of people doing it out of season.
If you stick to the highway, there shouldn't be any river crossings to worry about. It's a military road and the bridges are pretty hefty. As you cross into Kyrgyzstan there's a section which always seems to be washed out, but I've never heard of cyclists not making it through. When I was there that section of road was damaged but passable, even in a vehicle, and more recent accounts show more or less the same thing.
Oct 4, 2012 7:20 AM
Oct 6, 2012 9:18 AM
4Its worth bearing in mind a couple of things:
1/ Spring and Autumn are not like you would know them. Winter goes from October to April inclusive. At any time in the Eastern Pamir over this period the snow can be heavy and it can be well below zero (minimum winter day-time temperature recorded was -67C in Bulankul a couple of years ago). Summer goes from June through to August but you can still get snow and it can still be below zero at night. Spring happens fast and same with Autumn and either can switch to Winter or Summer overnight.
2/ Melt waters are worst in August when the sun finally has an impact on the glaciers - its only then when you have a real problem crossing rivers. Also, try to make any crossings in the morning - the waters rise in the afternoon.
If winter comes early you really are trapped - I'd advise May at the earliest.
Oct 16, 2012 6:51 AM
5I did Pamir beginning of this may, it was just perfect! cool climate, clear days, some high rivers bad not that bad, passes where still snowy and now other cycler :-)
I got stories told how it was 3 weeks before ... then it was really tough to cycle through it...
but weather is different every year, will be a luck thing
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